Hunting Act 2004
The Hunting Act 2004, which came into effect early in 2005, has made it illegal (except under certain exemptions, always requiring the landowner’s specific consent) for anyone intentionally to allow a dog to chase or hunt a wild mammal. This covers most wild mammals, including deer, foxes, otters and hares.
The legal position allows hunts to operate only by following a predetermined course on which hunts can lay a trail, known as “drag hunting”.
Where do the Wildlife Trusts stand on fox hunting?
The main thrust of The Wildlife Trusts' work is to conserve, enhance and restore wildlife habitats and populations of species across the UK. The Wildlife Trusts' charitable objects therefore define our perspective on hunting.
In some cases hunting can damage important habitats and cause disturbance to vulnerable populations of wildlife, and for this reason hunting is not allowed on Somerset Wildlife Trust nature reserves. Beyond our nature reserves individual Wildlife Trusts may on occasions raise concerns about the impact of a hunt on critical wildlife habitats or vulnerable populations of species. But our long-held position on hunting is that we are neither for, nor against, it.
We take this position, because it is primarily an animal welfare issue and as nature conservation charity, we have to be clear in making this distinction, but we recognise that for many individuals “welfare” and “conservation” join together to form part of their own personal values, with respect to how they wish society to live alongside the natural world. We recognise and respect the strong feelings held by people, and many of our members, on this issue.
As with other issues, we advise people to contact their MPs if they feel strongly about this – whatever their view.